Passing the Leash: 5 Tips to Make the Hiring Transition Easier

by Kristin Morrison on July 16, 2010

in Dog Walking Business Start Up,how to hire pet sitting staff,Pet Business,Pet Sitting Business Goals,Pet Sitting Startup

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I got an email today that inspired me to write a blog post.
Thanks Emi!

Here’s the email I received:

Hi Kristin,
I purchased your online product Business Hiring Kit: For Hiring Pet Sitting/Dog Walking Staff ™ two days ago and have been very pleased with the content.

One of my main hurdles is how to tell my current clients, that I have been taking care of myself for the past year, that I am going to transition from being the owner/dog walker/pet sitter to just the owner with hired staff to cover the pet sitting and dog walking.

Do you have any suggestions on how to make this transition smooth and professional?

Thanks,
Emi
Sniff and Go Dog Walking and Pet Services

Here’s my response:

Hi Emi,
Nice to hear from you. 🙂

I’m so glad you are happy with the Hiring Kit. I developed it years ago to use in my own pet sitting business and it has helped me hire top-notch pet sitters and dog walkers in my own pet sitting business. I currently have 30 great pet sitters on staff, all of whom I’ve hired through using the Hiring Kit. I have heard from lots of other pet sitters that my Hiring Kit has helped them hire great people too. I love hearing that.

Yes, I do have 5 suggestions for making the transition easier:

1) Share the jobs for awhile with your new staff. If you are hiring dog walkers continue walking on M/W/F and having your new walker walk T/TH.

2) Go to at least 3-5 of the client interviews when your staff meets your clients. After that the staff member should be able to go on his/her own.

3) When clients call about particular sits and you are going to put new staff members in say, “I’d love to help you but unfortunately I’m not available for those dates. I have a wonderful assistant that is. Would you like me to set up a time to have you meet my assistant?” If you are sharing the job say: “I’m available for some of those dates. For the dates I’m not available I have a wonderful assistant.”

4) Have your clients pay you via mailing a check or giving you their credit card information. Don’t have them leave checks for your assistant to pick up. It creates more work for your assistant.

5) Be sure to use a client questionnaire when staff members do sits on their own. Mail it to clients with a self-addressed stamped envelope so they will feel compelled to return it. The Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy sells a client service questionnaire or you can create your own.

Have your questionnaire be simple enough that it will just take clients only a minute or two to fill it out the form and send it back to you with their comments. Having a self-addressed stamped envelope will compel them to mail back the questionnaire! I’ve found the online questionnaires to be less effective for client response so mail the questionnaire to them.

Sending out questionnaires will help you get feedback on how your new staff member is doing. It’s often easier for clients to write out their feedback than pick up the phone to let you know what their experience was like in using your new staff member. Keep it simple for them and for you!

A final note about the questionnaire: share the feedback, both good and bad, with your staff. The positive feedback will keep your staff motivated and the negative feedback will get them back on the right track.

Hope this information helps, Emi!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Paulk July 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

We have been using Kristin’s system for the past year and recently started using the feedback forms. It is SO great to see how pleased our clients are with their assigned sitter. It really puts a smile on my face when I get them in the mail. 🙂

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Jennifer May 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm

This is a great article Kristin. Hiring has always been hard for me in my business and I’m sure lots of other people experience the same stress. One thing I do with my new hires is have them do a “practice consultation/meet and greet” either with one of my current sitters or with my husband. This way we can throw them a few curve balls (some clients have crazy requests and I want sitters to know how to deal with them) and this allows us to also walk the new hires through the interview process. After the practice consultation I have the sitter do a practice visit with the pets they just interviewed for. This helps them really get a feel for the whole process without feeling the crazy pressure of a new client breathing down their neck.

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Kristin Morrison May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

Hi Jennifer, I love that you have your new sitters do a practice consultation. 🙂 I recommend that in my book as I find doing that role playing helps those who are new to hiring feel more comfortable letting their new hires go to meet clients on their own. Hiring can be stressful but if you hire great people then eventually it will make your life as the owner much, much easier. Wishing you much pet sitting success, Jennifer.

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